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Russian anti-trust regulator preliminary concludes Apple Rus is guilty of price fixing

March 01, 21:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Apple denies accusations saying it does not force iPhone prices on retail networks
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MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/. Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has made a preliminary conclusion about the guilt of Apple Rus in fixing the price of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, head of FAS anti-cartel department Andrei Tenishev told reporters.

"The conclusion of the FAS commission is that it was illegal economic coordination, which led to higher prices on retail market of iPhone sales," he said.

According to Tenishev, Apple Rus has time to agree with the decision of the commission or to challenge it.

"A meeting has been scheduled for March 14 and I think, we will take some decision there," he said.

In his turn, the head of the FAS Igor Artemyev said that the regulator does not rule out a settlement agreement with Apple regarding the iPhone price fixing case.

"We continue our investigation, we have a certain set of evidence. Considering that Apple, unlike some other companies, cooperated with us from the beginning to and we had a dialogue, we will continue to discuss various options of that case," Artemyev said.

He added that the prospects for reconciliation are "good".

FAS repeatedly postponed consideration of the case against Apple divisions (OOO Apple Rus, Apple Holding B.V., Apple Sales Ireland, Apple Operations International, Apple Inc) in connection with the need to collect additional documents. The last time the meeting was postponed until March 14.

Price fixing case

FAS launched an inspection regarding several Russian electronics retailers due to suspicions of price-fixing agreement in sales of the latest iPhone models. Current iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus prices set by retailers are slightly different against each other and those listed in the Apple’s press release dated September 28, 2015, which gives reasons to believe that retailers did not determine iPhone prices independently, FAS press service said.

The antitrust watchdog requested information from 16 retailers, among them Euroset, Eldorado, Svyaznoy, re:Store, Ozon.ru, Citilink, Media-Markt, Mobiland, Megafon and Vimpelcom (Beeline brand), as well as the official online Apple store.

The investigation revealed that the majority of resellers had set similar prices for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus since the start of their official sales in Russia and maintained them for a certain period of time, FAS said. Similar situation was revealed with other iPhone models.

In particular, the regulator has questions to Apple regarding the price for iPhone 7. In Russia sales of this model started on September 23. In late October, the FAS announced the start of checks regarding the price of the latest model that will last for one month. Head of FAS Igor Artemyev said that of the situation with prices for iPhone 7 is same as with previous models that will be regarded as an aggravating circumstances when making a decision on the penalty.

Apple denies accusations saying it does not force iPhone prices on retail networks. Resellers set their own prices for Apple products both in Russia and around the world, the company said.

In early 2017, FAS head Igor Artemyev pointed out that the positions of the anti-trust watchdog and Apple on possible iPhone price fixing are getting "closer" and a settlement agreement is still possible.

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